EU court rules Google must grant 'right to be forgotten'

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

European Court of Justice rules that Internet companies, such as Google, must erase data upon request in test of

European Court of Justice rules that Internet companies, such as Google, must erase data upon request in test of "right to be forgotten."

LUXEMBOURG -The European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that Internet companies like Google must remove links to data on ordinary people upon request.

"Google and other search providers should act to remove links when requested and could be coerced into doing so by the authorities if they resist initial applications for change," the verdict said.

The case goes back to 2009 when a Spanish man attempted to have online information regarding a repossessed auction notice on a home he owned erased as he considered it no longer relevant or of public interest. 

Spain's data protection agency sided with him in 2010, ordering Google to remove the links. Yet, the Internet giant appealed and the Spanish court turned to the European Court of Justice for advice.

The court decided that there were cases in which a company like Google should allow online users to be "forgotten" after a certain amount of time by erasing links to web pages unless there are particular reasons, such as the role played by the person in public life, justifying public interest.

Google in response to the verdict has said that the ruling is "disappointing for search engines and online publishers in general. We now need to take time to analyze the implications."

The verdict was based on a data protection law from 1995 that provides limited rights to object to the processing of personal information and to demand its erasure in certain situations.

In 2012 the European Commission put forward plans for "right to be forgotten" law, which would allow people to request the removal of data about them.

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